Winding around the mouth of a flower-laden bay, Atuona is the southern Marquesas group’s tiny administrative capital. The village is framed at the back by forested mountains that give the whole place a close-in, cosy feel. It’s the only town with any sort of bustle (by Marquesan standards) on Hiva Oa, and it has a small selection of restaurants and guesthouses. Neat, modern houses cling like limpets to a rocky peninsula that separates the town centre from the majestic Tahauku Bay to the east, a favourite anchoring place among yachties.
Atuona is particularly famous for having once been home to Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, whose memories are kept alive by a regular trickle of visitors. Both lend even more romance to this enchanting little town.